Pax Christi Chorale oversees the Bruce Kirkpatrick Hill Memorial Fund. This season the fund is being used to bring 50 high school students into our production of Handel’s SOLOMON. By facilitating this opportunity for young musicians to sing alongside trained adults, a professional orchestra and soloists, we hope we can pass on our love of great choral music to the next generation. I know Bruce would have been pleased as punch about this.

It is simply incomprehensible that a year has passed since Bruce died. I figure pretty much everyone reading this blog was a friend of Bruce, so I don’t have to explain to you what a huge black hole he leaves with his not being here.

Bruce was a totally unique person. I know that I am not alone when I think of him and smile.

I think of him every day. I smile when I think of his confident cleverness, his west-coast warmth, his sparkling eyes and swaggering gait; his kilt-wearing hairiness, his geeky bookishness, his boisterous hymn singing; his Vespa-riding, croissant-eating, traffic light-cursing stubbornness; his oblivious obsessions, his zeal for adventure; his cuddling of small animals, his patience with inquisitive children; his tongue-chewing organ-playing music-addicted nothing-held-back passion for life. It just seems stupid that he’s not alive.

Bruce is the only person I have ever known that actually did know everything. I am serious. Ask him basically anything and he knew the answer. But he couldn’t throw a baseball worth a darn.

Few Ontario farm girls expect to catch a future husband in a monastery on the east coast of the USA, but on a summer evening in Orleans Massachusetts, that’s the way it went.  Our lives changed on August 15, 1989, and changed again on March 18, 2012. Everything changes all the time. I guess it just takes a lifetime to make any sense of that.

If you knew Bruce, please remember him on March 18. Light a candle, call a friend, drink some scotch, apologize to someone, listen to some Wagner; remember that life is a gift.

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14 Responses to Remembering Bruce Hill

  1. Emily says:

    Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing even more insights into the remarkable person who was Bruce. Hugs to you and all closest to you.

    • Lois B says:

      I agree totally Emily. A lovely tribute from you, Steph.
      Ponder this text from Song of Solomon 2:4 “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention toward me was love. NRSV
      Love, Lois

  2. Peter Barlow says:

    Stephanie,

    As someone who knew BKH long before you did, I can thoroughly agree with everything in your post. I think not being able to throw a baseball was probably one of his great regrets, though if you had seen him in PE class you would know why he never developed that particular skill. I never saw him on the vespa, but I do recall his facial expressions when playing the organ and that sound he used to make at the same time. He was what used to be called “a character”, and I will remember him thus.

    Great news about the fund. Will it continue, or was it set up just for Solomon? You will recall BKH’s interest in some of the minor Handel operas. Let me know what happens to the memorial fund.

    Peter

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      Thanks Peter. Your particular memories of Bruce that you shared with me at Christmas time were very precious. The BKH memorial fund is going to continue as long as possible. Pax Christi’s board of directors will oversee it and issue tax receipts for donations. Every year we’ll find a special project that honours Bruce. I think Bruce would say that experiencing the thrill of singing in a live performance is one of the best ways to interest young musicians in classical music. I know that the “Willcocks Weeks” in Victoria were pivotal in his own musical development. Hopefully we can light some sparks with this cracker Handel piece.

  3. Andrew Zinck says:

    This was indeed beautiful. And it reminded me to treasure those who are still with me… how lucky I am … and how fragile it all is. “Apologize to someone.” What an excellent suggestion. In memory of Bruce, I will do just that.

  4. Mary Gillmeister says:

    I too think of my dear friend ‘Juicy’ every single day. I have found myself using more and more of his expressions in conversation, yet another way I keep him alive in my heart. They certainly broke the mould when they made him! And yes, he really did know everything!

    I’ve been remarking on all the things that made him great during this weekend, and will also be sharing some special times with friends. We must treasure our friends and loved ones, so Steph’s advice is (as usual) bang-on > let us celebrate life, which is truly a gift.

  5. Sheila Macadam says:

    Dear Stephanie, Here I am with Marion Cameron near Blue Jays Spring Training watching several people throwing baseballs but thinking a great deal about Bruce and yourself.
    One of my personal regrets is that I didn’t engage Bruce in more conversations at Pax when the opportunity was there as I always came away having learned something interesting.
    Creating music with a group is certainly one of life’s great privileges which I appreciate every week.
    Brought the Lagavuillen with me and will certainly give a toast to the great man tomorrow.
    Love Sheila

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      Superb! Bruce did love baseball as you know. He used to play scrub games with his friend Matthew Larkin in Victoria. I think he decked him with one ill thrown pitch that hit Matthew square in the head. When Bruce arrived in Toronto in 1990 he must have thought he had reached the promised land. We won the world series – twice! We had seasons tickets thereafter, but the team never quite recaptured the magic of 1992/1993.
      Raise those glasses high, Sheila and friends : )
      See you soon, Steph

  6. Bob Loewen says:

    Dear Stephanie,
    What a beautifully written tribute to Bruce on your blog. Thanks so much for sharing so openly, publicly via Facebook, on your blog, and in countless private conversations. It seems a sacred privilege to have been allowed to be part of your journey through this past year. Though i have mentioned this to you before, each time I think of Bruce I always get around to remembering the elan with which he accompanied me in singing Erlkönig. The vigour and passion for music will stay with for me for my whole life.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you today as you and your many friends remember Bruce. I will be sure to select my best choice of Scotch as I raise a glass to Bruce’s memory.
    My best to you,
    Bob

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      Thanks Bob. Bruce was one of the few people who attempted to play all the notes in the accompaniment for Erlkonig. Most people cheat a bit and take a bit of a rest from that relentless RH ostinato – but Bruce just powered through it : )

  7. Matthew Larkin says:

    A beautifully written tribute, Stephanie! You’re right: it’s just stupid that Bruce is gone, and like so many others, I find it almost unbelievable.
    That summer afternoon in Victoria, to which you refer, we were playing some pickup in Fairfield Park (a rather small field), and I was pitching to him. He smoked a line drive, and I didn’t have time to move. I was momentarily unconscious, and wasn’t sure where I was at first. A few beers later at the Old Bailey, and I was laughing about it. I never let him forget it either!

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      So that’s what happened. Far worse to be the target of his line drive – he was far better at hitting than pitching. He always retold the story quite seriously since, for a moment, he thought he had killed you! I’m so glad you survived : )

  8. Enid Dunbar says:

    Oh Steph, I had no idea…

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